Buy mosque property to halt offensive project

President Barack Obama’s mixed-message musings on the $100 million proposed mosque and Islamic center two blocks from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan have done nothing but further aggravate an already contentious issue. He would have done better to stay out of the issue entirely.

For their part, Republican leaders are needlessly trying to turn the issue into another political club with which to bludgeon Democrats running for Congress, even though it is not a federal issue or one that either party can affect.

There’s no question why a substantial majority of Americans oppose the construction of the mosque two blocks from where thousands of people were incinerated in the name of Allahat the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Such a center would be an insult — a slap in the face to the family and friends of those who killed that terrible day, thanks to Islamic terrorists.

Certainly, not all Muslims subscribe to the violent Islamist theology that drove the 9/11 terrorists to fly jet planes into buildings.

And not all Christians are Muslim-haters. But imagine the outcry that would be provoked in the Muslim world if some Christian groups sought to build a massive edifice highlighting its religious beliefs at, say, Srebrenica, the site of the massacre of hundreds of Muslims by predominately Christian Bosnian forces in 1995.

Most Americans would welcome any indication that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the developer of the proposed mosque, recognized the offense his proposal has generated and accepted offers he has already received to build the mosque at another Manhattan location. The fact that he has repeatedly refused to budge from this site suggests he’s adamant about making a political statement.

Rauf and his supporters clearly have the right to build on the private property they own so long as they comply with local zoning requirements. The last hurdle in that regard was removed a couple weeks ago, when the New York City Landmarks Preservation Committee refused to designate the old garment factory on the property as a historic landmark, although an appeal is pending.

Some of those who are now demanding that government — local, state or federal — do something to halt the mosque project would be frothing-at-the-mouth furious if any one of those governments arbitrarily tried to halt construction of a Christian cathedral.

The U.S. Constitution doesn’t allow either action, of course. The First Amendment makes no distinction between Christianity and Islam, Buddhism or Judaism. It simply says Congress — and through the 14th Amendment, all arms of government — under the Establishment Clause, cannot single out one religion for special treatment or condemnation.

If people really want to stop construction of the mosque, they should use economic means. Start a fund to purchase the site from Rauf and his backers, even if the purchase price is considerably higher than its market value. That is the legal and truly American way to solve the mosque dispute.


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